Why I Resist Yoga (and Why You Need a Personal Mission Statement)

So, I’ve been living in southern California for over six months now. And pretty much everyone I run into practices some form of yoga. There’s Bikram for heat lovers, Kundalini for spiritual seekers, Vinyasa for those with unlimited energy, and so on.

I get asked at least once a week if I practice yoga. My stock answer: “No. I used to when I lived in Salt Lake City, but not now.”

“Why not?” they usually ask.

“I think it has to do with a personality flaw of mine,” I say. “You see, I have a very hard time going along with the herd.”

But it’s more than that…

It’s not only that I want to be unique. It’s that there is a certain energy I associate with the super-obsessed yoga crowd. Even though this is totally stereotyping (sorry, I know my last post was all about not doing that), many hardcore yoga folks spout all kinds of stuff about manifesting abundance, projecting love, being spiritual, healing with stones and crystals, and chilling out with a little incense. I just don’t fit in. Most of it is great. Who doesn’t want to give and receive love or manifest abundance?

But…

There’s a certain airy-ness that typically accompanies this mindset. A go-with-the-flow, accept-everything, be-one-with-the-universe, aimlessly-go-along-without-a-rudder kind of vibe. And it’s hard for me to buy into. I need an anchor. I find myself living in this paradox of wanting to be spiritual and open to serendipity, yet also needing a certain amount of rigidity.

Maybe it’s my entrepreneurial background. I know from experience, from starting several businesses, that if you are not clear about what you want, you can end up somewhere you didn’t intend… or worse, your energy can be drained on a thousand little things that don’t matter and you never end up achieving the big things. You need a lighthouse — a constant that keeps you on track and defines your course. You also need to be open to tweaking the location of your lighthouse as you gain more information along the way.

This is even more important in your personal life. Who cares about business or making money when your soul is at stake. When all is said and done, what kind of person do you want to be? What will you contribute to the world? What do you stand for? What are your values? Are you going to let others define your actions? Are you going to do things to please the crowd? Do you have a strong foundation, a principle base, that you can rely on when you have to make tough decisions?

Your Personal Mission Statement

A personal mission statement is like finding a diamond buried in your back yard. You have to dig and dig and dig until you unearth it. It’s not about writing up something flowery or copying a mantra from someone else. It’s about taking a long, hard look at yourself and uncovering your essence. It can be terrifying to look at your light and dark sides. Most people never even attempt to do this—instead they stay busy with work, friends, television, food, alcohol, addictions or whatever distracts them from delving deep within.

The reason why this delving process is so difficult is because there is always a gap between your ideal values and how you are living. To recognize that gap and make a commitment to live the values you’ve outlined is difficult. There will be mistakes. There will be derailments. There will be problems. There will be times you feel like a hypocrite.

That’s why your mission statement is so crucial. If you have nothing to keep you on track, these mistakes or derailments could lead you down a painful path. Think of all the amazing people with so much potential, people who had it all, but messed up. They cheated on a spouse and destroyed their families. They focused on work instead of their children and now their kids hate them. They got caught up in drugs or alcohol or another addiction. They operated in the gray zone of legality and lost their freedom or reputation. Or they simply lived a life of quiet desperation, lacking joy and meaning.

Body, Mind and Spirit

In his book Man’s Search for Meaning, Dr. Frankl hypothesizes that we have three parts to our nature: the body, the mind, and the spirit. According to him, disease comes from a crisis of the spirit. That sense of emptiness that invades the mind and body. Without a fulfilling future vision that is in alignment with your soul, your life will be a far emptier version of what it could be.

When you know what you stand for, even though you may veer off course 90% of the time, you can keep correcting yourself to reach a destination of contentment and love.

Your personal mission statement also has a tendency to make your past less disastrous. It helps you to see mistakes and traumas as experiences that can be used to learn about yourself and correct your journey.

We all play different roles. There’s your public role (which may change slightly depending on the crowd you’re dealing with). There’s your private role or how you behave by yourself and around family members and friends. And there’s your secret inner life. This secret inner life is where your soul resides. It’s where your heart is — which means it’s the most significant part of yourself.

It is only by focusing on our secret inner life that we are able to uncover our true purpose statement. Stephen Covey teaches that the four components of our secret inner lives are: self-awareness, conscience, imagination, and independent will. When you step deep within your inner life, you have the ability to observe, analyze and change. Once you change the core of yourself, it ripples out and changes your public and private lives as well.

If a plant is dying because it’s dehydrated, you don’t water the leaves. You water the roots. Focusing on improving and changing your inner life is like watering your roots. It makes every other part of your life healthy.

Want to Create Your Own Mission Statement?

Check out Stephen Covey’s book, How to Develop Your Personal Mission Statement. It’s cheap. Ninety-nine cents on kindle. Get it. Read it. And create your own.

All my love,

Laura

P.S. I don’t think there is anything wrong with practicing yoga. Really. In fact, I believe my life would be better — and my body more flexible — if I did…

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